Bill strengthens economic development programs in Greater Minnesota
On Wednesday, the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy committee heard SF 784, authored by Sen. Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids), which would improve and strengthen several economic development programs. Specifically, the bill would fund the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) Grant Program at $2 million a year, expand the successful employer-driven Job Training Incentive Program to $2 million a year, and restore funding for the Job Creation Fund and the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) to $12.5 million and $15 million, respectively.
Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz, who also serves on the CGMC board, testified in support of the bill, and specifically about the need to restore funding for MIF and the Job Creation Fund. These economic development tools help rural Minnesota communities be more competitive.
Committee members questioned a provision in the bill to direct at least 75 percent of Job Creation Fund funding to Greater Minnesota. From July 2013 through September 2016, 65 percent of awards went to businesses in the metro area. The GMNP believes that a requirement directing a specified percentage to Greater Minnesota is needed to bring balance to this program.